The Do’s and Don’ts of Marketing Automation

Marketing automation has become a sophisticated technology that can positively transform the way businesses communicate with their audiences. In addition, automation can also help to bridge the gap between sales and marketing teams, manifesting a collectively better understanding of lead generation efforts. Although, while many businesses benefit from automation, there still remains a great need for the human element.

When automation is applied to content-focused inbound marketing, businesses can successfully drive more qualified leads through the sales funnel. However, every business should first begin with an understanding of exactly which marketing efforts can and should be automated before investing in any technology:

  • Posts to social media
  • Personalized email communications
  • Data communications between marketing and CRM systems
  • Lead qualification
  • List creation for audience segmentation
  • Alerts and notifications

While these efforts tend to be more efficient with automation, there are still some important do’s and don’ts to consider.

Don’t implement automation without a plan

Just because the technology exists doesn’t mean marketers have a license to automate every bit of communication and hope for the best. The key is to use these automation tools in conjunction with an overall marketing strategy to enhance the level of communications with prospects. Start developing a plan by assessing each communication element, then address if automation will facilitate reaching the marketing goals.

Do understand that automation is a tool, not a strategy

It’s equally as important to have an actual plan for the implementation process as it is to have a strategy. However, automation itself should not be viewed as a strategy, but rather as a tool. Essentially, any marketing automation efforts should compliment an existing strategy, and therefore align with the communication needs of the customer.

Don’t become a robot on autopilot

Successful marketing campaigns will always present an element of human nature. On the other hand, when automation runs on autopilot, customers feel devalued and eventually develop a negative perception of the brand. A great example involves setting blog posts to automatically publish to social channels without some unique commentary or insight. According to Jason Falls of Social Media Examiner, there is a difference between “automating the sharing mechanism, and automating the discovery and review of the content being shared.” It’s this type of “setting and forgetting” in combination with no engagement trigger that will push people away and do the brand more harm than good.

Do regularly monitor activity and engagement from automated efforts

Referring to the previous example, its great to use automation to schedule out blog posts. However, make the effort to write compelling messages for each channel so that it attracts readers to the post. It’s also important to continue monitoring post activity and continue engaging with customers and prospects in real-time. Without this human element, automation on autopilot is sure to deter potential customers as no one wants to engage with a robotic marketing machine.

Don’t send out canned email communications

Automation technology has become sophisticated enough now that marketers are able to better personalize content in their communications. Although it’s efficient and great to send out emails using the automation tool, it’s more important to ensure that the email itself doesn’t appear canned beyond the insertion of their name.

Do segment, personalize and follow up

Use the demographics in the CRM to segment lists and tailor communications that are relevant based on the customer’s individual preferences. By personalizing the content, prospects will perceive the brand as caring because the content aims to help them or add value to their daily lives. Plus, by following up on automated efforts adds another element of human nature of the relationship nurturing process. Between segmentation with personalization and additional efforts to remain in touch, automation can help both marketing and sales team increase chances of conversion.

Don’t rely solely on email marketing

Automated email communications, especially from the sales team, allows for a greater focus on leads that are ready to have a meaningful conversation. But it’s important to remember that there is more to automation than just sending emails. Sure, it’s a great way to generate attention for webinars or other promotions, but it’s not the only means of communication. Expand automation touchpoints to include social media, landing pages, and smart forms – to name a few. It also beneficial to get to know know the customer better and have an understanding for their most desirable forms of communication.

Do create quality content in many different formats

In order to generate the lead volume necessary for successful automation efforts, there needs to be a solid foundation for inbound marketing. Create valuable content for blog. white papers, case studies, social media marketing and more. Because the objective is to attract people to a website, content is the best way to drive the traffic. Be sure to establish a marketing automation expert that is responsible for overseeing the initial implementation, content creation, and who will direct and guide both marketing and sales teams through the processes. Having a team of writers and designers is also key to producing ongoing quality content.

Don’t make assumptions about your audiences

Before deploying any form of marketing automation, be sure to develop well defined customer personas. Otherwise, the content won’t resonate with them no matter when you send it, or even where it’s posted. After all, one of the most favorable aspects of marketing automation is that it helps marketers put the right message in front of the right person at the right time.

Do collect the right data about your customers and develop personas during the planning stage

Do collect the right data about your customers and develop personas during the planning stage

Don’t overlook all the things that can be automated and what can be gained from the automation process

Whether leads come through forms on the website or even in person interactions, it’s important to generate a sizable amount of leads to nurture through the sales funnel. If there aren’t enough leads right now, it’s time to ramp up an inbound marketing plan backed with a healthy content pool in order for marketing automation to be worthwhile.

But of all the benefits automation provides, the event of of unifying marketing and sales teams to better nurture and qualify leads is by far the best for any business. No more prospect burnout via shotgun-style emails; no more burning out your sales team with leads that aren’t ready to convert; no more wasted marketing efforts.

Launching a CRM implementation? Be sure to read this to learn the do's and don'ts to ensure it runs smoothly.

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